Over the past few years, many people have been turning their attention to the health and wellness industry, in particular the diet and fitness industry. While there are plenty of “quick fixes” and “magic pills” out there, I want to share with you a few tricks that I’ve used over the years to help me and my clients stay on track and keep the weight off.
Most of us don’t start out wanting to detox, cleanse, or lose weight. We do it out of a sense of urgency or because we feel we need a break from the daily grind, or we discover some health issue that makes us want to get healthy. But these changes can be hard to maintain and keep off, especially if the change is drastic, such as a detox or a cleanse. But how do you stay on it? And should you?
So you’ve decided to detox, cleanse or even change your diet. You’re excited about the new possibilities that this new way of eating can provide. You’re ready to start, but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you’re used to eating fast food all day long and suddenly you’re trying to eat healthy. Maybe you’re trying to lose weight and you want to start exercising. Maybe you’re having trouble getting out of bed and you want to start meditating. Maybe you’re trying to stop smoking and you want to quit drinking. Whatever the case may be, the point is that the first step is to start. You can’t just jump into a new way of eating or lifestyle and expect
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“A friend of mine recently completed a 30-day diet challenge and lost 25 pounds. I’m going to give it a shot!”
Sharon wasn’t the only client to excitedly bounce into a training session and say she’d discovered a quick remedy.
I could understand her delight. Who wouldn’t desire such quick results, after all?
But I was worried about Sharon. I’ve seen a lot of these “overnight” diet challenges, and the results are almost always fleeting.
It’s awful to watch clients go through this cycle (see below).
They frequently end up exactly where they began, if not worse off. Isn’t it our responsibility as coaches to put a stop to 7-day detoxes, 14-day juice cleanses, and 21-day metabolic makeovers?
Though your instincts may tell you to train your client out of his or her “quick fix” mentality, there is a better option.
Even the weakest diet concepts can be turned into long-term success by the best trainers.
How? By being transparent, resourceful, and strategic.
We’ll show you five techniques to turn your clients’ enthusiasm for diet and exercise “challenges” into rocket fuel for long-term improvement in this post.
First, congratulate them on their efforts.
Jennifer Broxterman, R.D., a Certified Coach in London, Ontario, says, “I find a lot of folks wanting to do the Whole30 or a juice cleanse or go sugar- or alcohol-free for a month.”
While these challenges have a high failure rate, Broxterman advises against dismissing them: “That’s a judgemental approach, and it generates a ‘me versus you’ mentality, which isn’t very helpful for creating rapport.”
Rather, concentrate on the good… even if it means taking a long, deep breath first.
For instance, according to Broxterman, “a challenge may be incredibly effective if it gets your client enthused about eating healthy and feeling good about the food options in their cupboard.”
It also demonstrates that they are open to change.
Clients can get vital insights with your assistance, which will help them achieve better results in the future.
You’ll build trust with your client and deepen your coaching relationship by supporting their efforts rather than shutting them down.
Check out this PN coaching worksheet for a three-step method to help you reframe your coaching perspective and respect your clients’ goals: Meet your customers where they are.
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Strategy #2: Figure out what motivates them.
According to Broxterman, your client’s difficulty provides you with an excellent opportunity to learn more about their health and fitness goals, frustrations, and what makes them tick.
Ask, with nonjudgmental curiosity:
“Have you ever tried a diet challenge before?”
This not only provides context, but it can also help you better frame your client’s expectations (without you having to do so).
“They might start telling you how they dropped some weight, but not as much as they thought, and then they gain it back,” Broxterman says.
Following that, you can inquire (in order):
- “What motivates you to take on this challenge?”
- “What do you expect to gain from it?”
- “How essential is that to you?”
- “And why is it essential to you?” says the narrator.
Understanding your client’s pain spots and actual motivation is the goal.
You’ll be more equipped to assist them not only throughout the task, but also beyond.
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Use our “5 whys” worksheet to assist your clients dig deep and discover their true motivations for wanting to change.
Create a plan as the third strategy.
Your client is inclined to make a lot of changes all at once when faced with a short-term difficulty.
And, in the vast majority of cases, those modifications aren’t intended to last. People don’t embark on a “cleanse” thinking they’ll be drinking only juice for the rest of their lives.
This is an opportunity for you, the coach, to truly shine.
Assist your client in identifying healthy habits that complement and interact with their current difficulty.
You’ll be able to bridge the gap between the “challenge” and the rest of their lives this way. The goal was to increase their chances of success not only during the challenge, but also in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Small, basic, and behavior-focused habits are best. (Read: “Lose 10 pounds” is a goal, not a method.)
Let’s imagine your client has decided to eat exclusively whole foods for the next 30 days. Packing their lunch and afternoon snack every morning could be an excellent habit to develop to help them stay on track.
Maybe they’re going for a “no dessert” challenge. In this scenario, you might suggest that they eat slowly and carefully, and/or that they eat lean protein at each meal, both of which might help them feel more satiated afterward.
What about a juice cleanse for 14 days? To be sure, that’s a more difficult one. So think beyond the box. You could recommend that they:
- Plan a social engagement that isn’t based around food and alcohol once or twice a week. (This is an underappreciated method for assisting people in adopting a healthier eating lifestyle.)
- Every day, spend 15 minutes walking, foam rolling, or stretching. Although a juice cleanse is not the best time to begin exercising vigorously, it can be used to create a daily exercise habit.
- Recognize and accept the feelings that arise when they are hungry. It may even be beneficial to write them down. (Are they depressed? Bored? Tired? More ideas can be found here.) They can also learn to “sit with it.” On a juice cleanse, hunger is unavoidable, therefore it’s the ideal time to understand that “hunger is not an emergency.”
By the end of the challenge, these habits should be so engrained that continuing them feels natural.
Bonus: If you and your customer come up with more practices than the challenge timeline allows, you’ll have a built-in roadmap for things to work on when the challenge is finished.
Collaborate with your client on habits that will help them get closer to their goals using our “Outcome goals into behavior goals” worksheet.
Turn “failures” into feedback with strategy #4.
Consider this scenario: your client signs up for the Dunkin’ Do-Not Challenge (a.k.a. thirty days without donuts).
However, after only four days, they come to you, ashamedly admitting to having a Boston cream breakdown in the office breakroom.
Broxterman suggests taking a three-pronged approach to coaching: curiosity, compassion, and radical honesty.
Curiosity: Inquire about your client’s motivation for eating the donut. Perhaps they worked late the night before and didn’t have time to have breakfast or prepare lunch.
Compassion: Emphasize the need of not berating themselves. Encourage them to treat themselves as they would a friend or family member in a similar position.
Give your client the opportunity to be entirely honest about what was going on at the time the “failure” occurred. Perhaps they were thinking:
- At the time, I was a little stressed.
- deprived of their favorite foods
- as if they “earned” a reward
Show them the bright side: perhaps the donut “failure” teaches them the value of meal packing lunches. As a result, they are less likely to make poor eating choices.
It could also imply that completely avoiding food—especially foods they enjoy—isn’t the greatest strategy.
You can prepare your customer for future success by rephrasing their “failure” as a learning experience (and minimize their guilt).
Here’s another illustration: Let’s say your client is trying to forgo sugar for 30 days and is having a hard time. Assist them in identifying their stumbling blocks.
For example, perhaps their partner keeps cookies and ice cream in the kitchen. This encapsulates two common issues: their environment is filled of enticing foods, and their relationship is unsupportive.
Think about what they could do together to improve their environment and/or develop their support system. This is how you guide them through challenges and maintain the momentum long after the difficulty has ended.
Sit down with customers and fill out this worksheet on “converting failure into feedback” for a hands-on way to teach them what it means to be resilient.
Strategy #5: Investigate their outcomes
It’s likely that when a client completes a challenge, they’ll see some favorable results. Maybe they’ve lost a few pounds, aren’t as hungry for sweets, or are sleeping better.
Naturally, they’ll want to keep the good work going. That, however, is extremely rare.
People gravitate for short-term diets because it’s difficult to imagine permanently changing their food and lifestyle habits. But only for a few weeks? That appears to be feasible.
The difficulty is that this kind of thinking favors all-or-nothing thinking. Either you’re doing everything you can to be healthy (an extreme diet challenge) or you’re doing nothing at all (back to your old ways).
But, based on our experience with over 100,000 clients, we can definitely state that the magic happens most often in the middle ground.
Your client doesn’t have to keep all of the habits they developed during the challenge; only the ones that worked for them must be maintained.
Find out what they are and how they plan to continue with them. Even if it isn’t always the case.
Perhaps they’ve realized that not drinking alcohol every night makes them feel better, but they miss having drinks with their spouse.
Limiting their alcohol use to one or two nights per week could be a good compromise.
Alternatively, they may enjoy going to the gym more frequently but find it difficult to prepare all of their own meals.
The happy medium: They keep going to the gym, but only cook supper three or four times a week, which they feel comfortable doing.
This is what we call “always something” at and we utilize it to effectively battle all-or-nothing thinking.
If practicing a habit at every meal is too much for you, how about doing it twice a day? Or even a single? Find out what your client thinks is doable and start there.
What if you only followed through 80% of the time instead of 100%? Or what about 60%? We’ve even discovered that if people are consistent 50% of the time, they can make significant improvement (or less).
In the end, just because your client went all-in on the challenge doesn’t mean they had to shut down completely. Instead, show them how to “tune the dial” and reap the benefits of their good deeds.
With our worksheet on “finding the middle ground,” you can help your customers carry over their problem changes in a sustainable way.
Leave your preconceived notions at the door.
Short-term diets, challenges, and cleanses aren’t going away anytime soon. Are they the most effective means of enhancing one’s health and fitness? Most likely not. However, this will not deter your clients from wanting to participate.
Short-term difficulties aren’t completely meaningless, though. They don’t make people doomed to fail. However, most people begin them with the wrong mindset—and without the necessary support network.
If you treat your challenge-seeking clients with compassion rather than judgment, you might be able to use their “summer body slim down” as a springboard for lasting change.
Not just for a month… but for the rest of your life.
If you’re a coach or wish to be one…
It’s both an art and a science to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy food and lifestyle adjustments in a way that’s tailored to their individual body, tastes, and circumstances.
Consider the Level 1 Certification if you want to learn more about both.
The word detox is quite popular. It has been used to describe everything from a few days of letting our bodies rest and cleanse to a week of eating paleo, to a month of juicing, and beyond.. Read more about juice cleanse dietitian and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should a detox cleanse last?
A detox cleanse should last for about a month, but you can do it for as long as you need.
What is the most effective detox cleanse?
There are many different types of detoxes, but the most effective one is a liquid diet.
Are detox diets effective?
Detox diets are not effective because they do not remove the causes of toxicity.
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